Chidambaram denies Congress manifesto contained promises similar to provisions in govt’s farm Bills

The former Union minister said the BJP govt was destroying three pillars of the food security system, namely MSP, Public Procurement and PDS

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram
Former Union Minister P Chidambaram

NH Political Bureau

A day after BJP leaders claimed that the 2019 Congress manifesto contained promises similar to the provisions in the government’s farm Bills, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram denied the same and said that the BJP is trying to destroy three important pillars of the food security system.

Chidambaram, who was head of the manifesto committee said, “A little knowledge is dangerous; little reading is even more dangerous. The BJP is caught in a web of its own creation. On the strength of our farmers, successive Congress governments built, brick by brick, a food security system, that culminated in the National Food Security Act, 2013.  The three pillars of our food security system are MSP, Public Procurement and PDS”.

Saying that the Congress Manifesto 2019 was based on these three foundational principles, the former Union minister added, “The Prime Minister and the BJP spokespersons have deliberately and maliciously distorted the Congress Manifesto”.

He said Congress had, in contrast to what BJP is propagating, promised:

  • To promote Farmers Producer Companies/Organisations to enable farmers to access inputs, technology and markets.
  • To establish farmers’ markets with adequate infrastructure and support in large villages and small towns to enable the farmer to bring his/her produce and freely market the same.

He said that “farmers need multiple accessible markets and choices, and the Congress’ proposals would have given them that. Once that was accomplished, the Congress Manifesto promised repealing the APMC Act”.

Chidambaram said that “the Modi government has surrendered to the corporates and traders”.

On behalf of the Congress party, Chidambaram said the BJP government should answer, “Why is there no clause on the price that the farmer will get from the private purchaser?”

He further said:

  • The Bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmer today, without creating thousands of alternative markets that will be accessible to the farmer.
  • The Bills assume perversely that the farmer and the private purchaser have equal bargaining power. They do not. The small farmer will be at the mercy of the private purchaser.
  • If a dispute arises between the farmer and the private purchaser, the machinery under the Bills is so bureaucratic and convoluted that no farmer will have the strength or the resources to fight the purchaser. The small and medium farmer will be ruined.

“The Congress and other Opposition parties must join hands to oppose the Bills in every forum and ensure that they do not become law in the present form,” said Chidambaram.

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